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YouTube CEO: YouTube Red is “really a music service” coming to “a hundred” more countries

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki dished on the future of YouTube Red, the premium video service. Is the YouTube Red/Google Play Music service coming soon?

Published onFebruary 13, 2018

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki
  • YouTube’s CEO gave a talk where she discussed the future of YouTube Red, the paid version of YouTube.
  • While never specifically mentioning the merger of Google Play Music with YouTube Red, she hinted that YouTube Red is a music-first product.
  • She also said that YouTube Red, or the new merged music product, will be available in over 100 countries.

In July last year, Google announced that its music service, Google Play Music, would merge with its premium YouTube service, YouTube Red. News on the merger was quiet until December 2017, when Bloomberg reported that Google would be releasing the combined service, internally referred to as “Remix,” by March 2018.

Yesterday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki gave a live talk at Recode’s Code Media conference where she discussed YouTube Red a bit. While never specifically mentioning the merger of YouTube Red and Google Play Music, she referred to YouTube Red as “really a music service,” which suggests that YouTube, and not Google Play Music, will be the forward-facing image of the upcoming product.

Wojcicki also discussed YouTube’s original programming, but repeatedly emphasized the music and ad-free aspects of YouTube Red. For example, she said, “All of these shows [YouTube Original programming] are something that we’re adding on top of this music service with Red.”

YouTube TV now has more than 300,000 subscribers

According to a study by Edison Research published by Statista in 2017, Pandora leads the market when it comes to audio streaming, used by 32% of Americans over the age of 12. Compared to Google’s measly 6% market share, it’s easy to see why branding a music product with the YouTube name would be a wise move: in an average month, 8 out of 10 18-49 year-olds watch YouTube videos. That kind of massive brand recognition is the only thing that could take down Pandora’s and Spotify’s iron grip on the industry.

The biggest issue the YouTube Red/Google Play Music service faces is the music industry itself. Labels have been unenthusiastic about how much revenue they earn from YouTube plays, so licensing deals have been tough to negotiate. If YouTube can’t obtain the proper licenses, then the service will be too thin to launch.

Also, getting the proper licenses ensures that the product can launch in other countries aside from the five YouTube Red is currently available in: the United States, Australia, Korea, Mexico, and New Zealand.

Wojcicki also said that YouTube is finalizing deals that would get YouTube Red into “a large number of countries.” When pressed for a more definitive number, she replied “a hundred.” If these deals are final, the new YouTube music product could very well launch in over a hundred countries next month.

You can watch the full interview below. Let us know what you think about a paid YouTube service to better compete with Spotify and Pandora in the comments!

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